Less than a month after Ivan Milat’s arrest for the Backpacker Murders, his younger brother, Wally Milat, gave an interview to Who Weekly. The interview was published in the June 13, 1994 edition which was subsequently banned for showing Ivan’s face to the world.
On growing up
Like most of the Milat children, says Wally, Ivan left school at 15. “He’s always been in road work or construction work. He did work in construction for a while, digging foundations and things like that. He worked all over Sydney. About that time my dad was in the construction game and most of the work was jumping onto a train and riding into the city to work on all the hospitals and building in there.
“Dad was strict but fair. If you came home and you’d been in any sort of trouble he’d just whack you to the ground. He’d go crook on you straight up-lay the law down straight away. He was strict, ruled with an iron fist. He’d say, “If the police come here and tell me you’ve been getting into trouble, you better hope the police take you away ‘cos I’ll sort you out straight after they’ve gone.” But as soon as he sorted you out, that matter was over with, put behind and “don’t do it again.”
“Ivan got on good with Dad – he got on good with all of us. When you have to work, you don’t have time to put in trouble.”
Wally says Ivan and some of his other brothers liked shooting and collecting guns and were familiar with firearms from an early age. “Even when we were kids, everybody in the street had a gun…a rifle of some sort behind the door. It’s just a common thing, growing up with them – guns in themselves are harmless, aren’t they? It’s only the people you put behind them, same as in a car.”
On Ivan, the son and brother
Ivan’s family affectionately call him Mac, although Wally doesn’t know the origins of the nickname. He was a loyal son who was committed to supporting his family, especially his mother and younger brother David, who suffered severe brain damage in a car accident.
David and Margaret Milat still live together in the family home at Guildford. “Ivan was a good supporter. He was always paying his board. He kept the place neat and tidy when other brothers and sisters didn’t clean up. He’d be out early Sunday mornings to go and mow the grass. I’d get up late and go for a bike ride. He’s still like that: Just two months ago he went and bought Mum a new fridge. The old one packed up and there was no way she could afford a new one on the pension so he just went out and bought her one. He’s been like that all his life. He looked after Mum and Dad when he was there and provided them with anything they needed. She’s fiercely protective of her son. He looked after Mum fantastically.”
On Ivan at work
“When I was working for the Water Board, Ivan was working for the DMR [now the RTA] at Central Asphalt right there at Granville, the actual hot-mix depot. He swung me a job there. He got on real good with every job they’d give him – they wanted to make him leading hand on the gang. He worked on that construction gang for years and years and then when they closed the place up about four years ago they put everybody off and paid them up and Readymix re-hired him to work with them because of his experience. He must have been with the RTA for 15 years.” Wally says Ivan was still employed by Readymix at the time of his arrest.
On Ivan’s habits and hobbies
“I can honestly say I’ve never seen him have a drink in his life. He’d drink soft drink, Coca-Cola. Never smoked – nothing. He’d come over for a visit and he’d mow the grass or clean up or he’d split up some more firewood or something – it was great.
“He loved his cars but he never used to drive them fast. I remember when I was a kid he had an old Customline V8 and I had an old Honda – I’d beat him everywhere we went because I’d drive faster and he’d always drive real slow and steady and look after everything he had. He never cut people off. I always thought he was the perfect driver. I knew a lot of the blokes he worked with. They all got on great with him. I can never remember him getting in a blue or having hassles like that.”
Ivan had owned his prized Harley Davidson motorcycle for about six months before his arrest. “Before that he’d bought a trail bike and thought it wouldn’t cost much more to buy a big bike and if you look after it, when you sell it you’ll get your money back. He bought it brand new. He bought it rather than buying a big Honda or Suzuki because he didn’t want all that horsepower. He just wanted it to ride to work on.”
On visiting Ivan in jail
Wally and sister Shirley visited Ivan in Long Bay Correctional Complex’s remand centre on Sat., May 28. They were the first family members to visit him there. “He knew it was a serious thing and he was trying to be cool about it,” Wally says. “He told me to try and keep the rest of my family calm. Shirley was there – she was a mess and he was trying to calm her down. I went back and told my mum he was all right because Mum feared that they’d bashed him up and all this. But he really didn’t say much. I think he’s very shocked.
“Mum’s taken it rough but the best she can, like any mum. The whole family’s taking it tough. You wouldn’t believe the effect this had had on me and my family.”